Why are we singing "Please Mister Postman" again ?

In this brisk autumn Le Futiloscope suddenly wanted a cardigan, a bit of clothing that used to be reserved only for grandmas, but is now, as we recently told you about, in a much-hyped return.  Why not this model in electric blue mohair—perfect length, adjusted cut, shoulder frills—on the E-shop of Katia Sanchez?  Too late to show it off at a lupper between girlfriends, of course.  But we can just run out and pick one up quickly anyway?  Oops, maybe not. The site in question tells us we’ll have to wait – until mid-December!  Is the article sold out?  It’s just the opposite:  it’s not yet even produced!  We can only “pre-order” it.  But even for that you have to hurry:  the LDPO (limit date for pre-order) will soon be over.  Is that enough to confuse you?  Do we wait, or do we hurry?

The concept of the PO (pre-order) is actually very simple.  Your sweater/jacket/pocketbook will be produced “on request”.  The brand does not launch the fabrication until, after a campaign of pre-order on the web, it has garnered enough money to finance the process.  Why?  It avoids creating tons of potentially unsold products which will fill up warehouses, before ending up, after miles of trucking, at cut-rate prices in discount stores or on private sale sites on the web.  Wherein lies the formula for success for all these new eco-virtuous brands (specialists of the made in France or nearby Europe, the respect of the artisanal know-how, yada yada yada…) and with limited treasuries.  Does the planet profit?  Yes an so do we, says the designer Benjamin Jézéquel, a convinced adherent: “Since I know in advance how many items were ordered, I only make the quantity necessary.  Thus, there are no unsold items, no stock maintenance expenses, no cut rate sales.  And the cost savings realized allow us to lower the price by about 20%”.  It’s a win-win situation!  And not only for the designer and his clients.  Those classic cliché sites with jovial Portuguese women in front of their sewing machines, “Take a look behind the scenes.  Discover our super team of artisans…” now has a real sense since pre-ordering allows the people making the goods to be paid in real time, without having to wait for the stocks to be sold.  It’s a win-win-win situation!

Amongst the precursors can be found Asphalte and their best-selling “solid sneakers”.  Or the brand Réuni, champion of the anti-waste, who propose only “exceptional pieces thought out with you and designed in Europe in the noblest and most durable materials possible”, available one by one – at this moment a warm winter sweater – only by pre-order.  Better yet, before completing a prototype (or re-edition) the label proposes a detailed questionnaire to its users.  Consulting its “community” about their needs –sizes, colors, materials and even ideal prices – before fabricating a new model “sweater of the future in recycled merino wool”.  Hopaal, the brand from Biarrritz in the south of France does it too.  The occasion to slip in the phrase…we respect all morphologies.  The pre-order is truly inclusive!  Coralie Marabelle, upcycling specialist, formed at Hermès and Margiela is the intellectual feminist of the group.  Her pull-over sweaters, Noma or Yoyo – soon to be produced in Spain – have bold designs and ultra-stylish details.  Which proves that the formula is not only for basics…

Can this thing really work?  In a world where we’re used to having sushi delivered in 30 minutes, everything and its brother by Amazon Prime and even for those super fashionistas Paris/New York/Tokyo, designer clothing delivered in 2 hours flat by express delivery.  Yes, but that was in the “world before” the optimists tell us!  During the first lockdown we were chomping at the bit and we finally learned to be patient.  And this led us to question ourselves before actually buying.  So be it.  From there to believe in the advent of a slower fashion…not really.  If the system works at all, it’s because it’s virtuous…it flatters the ego.  When we click on “pre-order” we’re proud to have tamed our desires for compulsive buying.  In its place we have invested in a beautiful limited series artisanal piece.  An to top it off, the brand has even asked us for our opinion!  We’re part of a community. Indeed, we’re part of a small privileged circle:  after all, the rich clients of the haute couture decide as well by ordering which pieces will be made by expert petites-mains.  Besides, when the object of our desires is delivered, one to four months later, we forget the monetary transaction that started it all, and we feel like we’re receiving a present.  What else did we order now?

Clearly it won’t be long now before the giants of fast fashion take over the formula.  And they’ll offer us capsule collections as an alibi to pre-order, while the sweatshops continue to work at full speed.  But we’re for the basic concept of course.  And we’re waiting to see if it takes…like everyone else.  Le Futiloscope doesn’t have a clear vision of the long term, but we just learned that we can pre-order, at Chaussettes Orphelines the model “Cancan” which comes up to mid-thigh, ultra-soft, and like all the accessories of the brand made from single socks which used to finish up in the trash.  And when we receive them, there will also be a return voucher allowing us to return, free of charge…up to 500 g of old socks without matches or with holes.  Neat, sorting them should occupy at least one hour of lockdown 2.  And because we’re hanging on by a thread, maybe this humble initiative will help us believe that the “world after” is a bit less desperate.